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Covid-19 - Practice Privacy Notices

You may recall that back in March 2020, LMC Law provided some information for practices to use, should they so wish, in terms of updating their (patient) Privacy Notices.

This information related to the notice issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care under the Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002 (COPI) requiring organisations to process confidential patient information for the purposes set out in Regulation 3(4) of the COPI.


The notice was due to expire on 30th September 2020 and then extended to 30 September 2021. This deadline has now been extended to 31st March 2022. 

Practices will need to inform patients that there has been an update to their Privacy Notice and amend the review date of their Privacy Notice accordingly.

In line with this extension, LMC Law have now revised the original information and suggest practices replace the previous privacy notice with the following: -

1. COVID-19 Pandemic wording for practice privacy notices:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and your information

'The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) recognises the unprecedented challenges the NHS and other health professionals are facing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The ICO also recognise that ‘Public bodies may require additional collection and sharing of personal data to protect against serious threats to public health.’

The Government have also taken action in respect of this and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has further extended the legal notice he originally issued in March 2020 under Regulation 3 of The Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002 until March 31st March 2022. This notice requires healthcare organisations such as GP Practices to support the processing and sharing of information to help the COVID-19 response.

In order to look after your healthcare needs during this difficult time, we may therefore urgently need to share your personal information, including medical records, with clinical and non clinical staff who belong to organisations that are permitted to use your information and need to use it to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. This could (amongst other measures) consist of either treating you or a member of your family and enable us and other healthcare organisations to monitor the disease, assess risk and manage the spread of the disease.

Please be assured that we will only share information and health data that is necessary to meet yours and public healthcare needs.

Any further extension will be provided in writing by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and we will communicate the same to you.

Please also note that the data protection and electronic communication laws do not stop us from sending public health messages to you, either by phone, text or email as these messages are not direct marketing.

It may also be necessary, where the latest technology allows us to do so, to use your information and health data to facilitate digital consultations and diagnoses and we will always do this with your security in mind.

If you are concerned about how your information is being used, please contact our DPO using the contact details provided in this Privacy Notice.

How we look after your personal information during the Covid-19 pandemic when staff work from home.

In accordance with government guidance and in order to protect the health and safety of our staff during this difficult period we will be requiring [insert all relevant staffing groups] staff to work from home.

This means that staff may have access to any necessary personal and/or medical information in order to look after your healthcare needs.

We would like to assure you that our staff will be subject to all relevant security procedures and policies of the Practice to ensure that any information is kept safe, secure and confidential at all times.


2. COVID-19 Pandemic wording for employee privacy notice:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and your information

We have an obligation to protect all our staff and employees’ health. For this reason, it is reasonable for us to ask you to tell us if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. In such circumstances we may need to collect specific health data about you. Where we need to do so, we will not collect more information than we require, and we will ensure that any information collected is treated with the appropriate safeguards.

It is unlikely that the practice will be asked to share information with authorities about you specifically but if this is necessary then data protection law will allow us to do so.

Practices should also be reminded that with regard to COVID-19 testing for employees, Practices should set out in their Employee Privacy Notices what information they collect from employees, the purpose for collecting the information, how long this information will be held and who this information is shared with. Please note that testing should always be offered on a voluntary basis and the legal basis for processing information in relation to this will usually be consent.

 

 

 

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Updated on Monday, 27 September 2021 861 views